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tv   Today in Washington  CSPAN  April 13, 2011 2:00am-6:00am EDT

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connected. parliament is a regatta our mandate because we won the most seats and a national election is over the canadiens to decide. >> you do not listen to parliament and did not tell them the truth. for six months we ask where are the numbers do justify your budget choices? that is what they put us there to do but you stiffed us that is why your government lost confidence that is why we have an election and is time you showed respect for the basic institutions of the country's. >> we gave all of that affirmation to parliament and what they demanded was more documents because they said it was not correct so we gave more documents which share for the information that we have. understand there at the age where they do not want to take yes for the answer but what matters now is not the
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bickering that goes on but our ability to focus on what matters to them which is the economy. . . the
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subcommittee on water and wildlife. i want to thank senator boxer and senator inhofe. let my say that united states has much natural gas as saudi arabia has oil. the shale which runs from central new york state to west virginia maybe the second largest natural gas field in the world. we have enormous reserves that can help america meet it's energy needs or do so in a way that produces far less produce than coal, helps the united states when it's energy independence, and improves our national security. high volume, horizontal hydraulic fracting is being used
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in thousands of new wells. in pennsylvania, more than 2700 wells were drilled from 2006 to march 10 of this year. a study estimated it had create or support 100,000 jobs, plus billions of dollars in economic value for the state. the natural gas industry is booming. but it maybe in jeep si. new york has imposed a moratorium on fracting operations, n is -- new jersey is considering a band, and pittsburg has considered a ban within city limits. making the drill illegal within the town limit. why is this happening? the answer is simple. the industry has failed to meet minimal acceptable preference levels for protecting human health and the environment, that is both an industry failure and
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failure of the regulatory process. i'm a strong supporter of domestic natural gas production, but my support only comes from human health and the environment are protected. the record is replete with cases from con tom nation with improper cement, cracked casings, drilled spills, and disturbing releasing natural gas and high energy logical formations. in june, 2010, the pennsylvania land trust association identified a total of 16 -- 1614 violations occurred by 45 pennsylvania drillers dating to january 2008, including 91 violations of pennsylvania clean stream laws, 162 cases of improper construction of waste water. 50 cases of improper well casings, and four cases of inadequate blowout prevention. last june a well blue out in clear field county, shot 45,000
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gallons of gas and water in the air over a 16 hour period. the treatment plants are not equipped to handle the contaminants that come out. five million gallons of water combined with chemicals can be used in a single fracting operation. much of this is returned to the surface. then it's either injected into underground wells and used by waste water treatment facility plants and waste water treatment plants cannot handle that type of pollutants. the question is what is epa doing about this? we understand that fracting is exempt from certain parts of the clean water act, but it's certainly subject to the provisions as we deal with waste water. is epa acting on the areas. it's one the areas that i hope they will deal with. the challenging that state
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regulators have not been able to handle the issue. we are exempt, however, it is subject to other provisions within the clean air and water act and protecting the public to get the natural gas that's critically important to our country. it's my hope this hearing will help answer the questions and i thank the witnesses that are here today, i thank our two colleagues that are participating in the hearing. we need to get this right. we need to figure out how to get the natural gas that is plentiful in the united states in an environmentally safe way. we have allowed for state regulation, but in some cases, state regulation has been inadequate. we do have federal laws, some apply, some are exempt. and the question is whether we are, in fact, adhering to the federal environmental rules that are currently in existence. what do we do with the waste water? how do we treat it? how do we deal to the danger? i hope the hearing will help us in that pursuit. with that, let me turn to the
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ranking republican member the full committee member senator inhofe. >> thank you. i'm glad we are having the hearing. you hear the stuff what lousy job the states are doing. in march 17, 1949, more than 60 years ago, the first hydraulic fracting job was performed in a well in my home state of oklahoma. the practice has now been used on more than one million currently producing wells, 35,000 wells a year without one confirmed case of ground water contamination. don't take my word for it. let's hear what the experts, the state regulators have said. nick tou, said there will be no water contamination resulted from fracting to stimulate oil and gas in the state of alabama. kathy forester, commissioner of
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the alaska oil and gas conservation. quote, there has been no verified cases of harm in the water in the state of alaska as a result of hydraulic fracting. mr. smith, quote, there's no indication that hydraulic fraction has ever caused damage to the ground water or other resources in michigan. in fact, the ogs has never received a complaint or allegation that hydraulic fractions has impacted ground water in any way. victor coreyo, that's the organization in texas that has the jurisdiction, i might add, though hydraulic fracturing has been used for 60 years, our railroad records that records do not reflect a single documented service or ground water contamination case. came thing true with fred, -- from the south dakota and all of these others. and so i have the other
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statements that i'll include in the record. now let me show you why this is the case. we've got a chart -- pull the chart up here. it's very important. everyone is spread out and hold it up high enough so that people can see it if you would. very good. now the chart illustrates a cross section of a typical well drilled in the grew drew. in between the ground water and shale are dozens of layers of solid rock. almost two miles of solid rock. let me repeat that, two miles of solid record between the aquafer. see this, that's a picture of the empire state. i'm trying to get this as a perfective, -- perspective, the stuff they hear isn't true.
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it would have to migrate through 7,000 feet of solid rock, that's about the same distance from the west front of the capital, all the way to the washington monument. fluid migration can't and doesn't. it's simple, the obama administration wants to regulation fossil fuels out of existence. energy secretary stephen chu actually said somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in europe. for my colleagues that don't know, there is about $8 a gallon. or alan krueger in the treasury department who said, quote, the administration believes that it is no longer sufficient to address our nation's energy needs by finding more fossil fuels. that's what this is all about. mr. krueger's belief is now a reality. gas at the pump is approaching
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$4 and we think it's going to be going on up. now if you think these data points are bad, they will grow far worse in the epa cap-and-trade agenda. as part of the agenda, the agency is maneuver to regulate, a practice that has always been regulated bay the state. the system today will confirm that the states don't need the epa. i want to welcome jeff cloud from my state of oklahoma, who's here to testify. it's a corporation commission i'd say to senator cornyn in oklahoma, not the commission that regulated it in oklahoma. these people have been doing a good job. but the mental they that we have here in washington, nothing done right unless it's done in washington. so the nation's shale deposit are predominantly located in states that effectively and efficiently regulate oil and gas in states such as pennsylvania, arkansas, oklahoma, texas,
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louisiana, west virginia, ohio, and north dakota. a virtual boom is transforming america's energy security and due in no small measure to the absence of federal regulation. for this reason, i would only say that i agree with something that was said by the chairman this morning when he was talking about the tremendous reserves. our recoverable reserves in gas, we're talking about natural gas this morning are greater than any country in the world. we could run this country for 90 years on natural gas without importing any from the middle east. that's why it is important. for those people that say we want to cut down the dependence, kill natural gas, kill it? yeah, you start regulating -- you can't get natural gas from these deposits without hydraulic fracturing. it's worked. we got to keep that for america. thank you. >> senator boxer. >> thank you, senator cornyn.
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thank you for chairing this hearing as chairman of the water and wildlife subcommittee. first i found another note. i want to express as chairman, i don't speak for all of the members. i do speak for all of the members on my side of the aisle. we are great that the new budget does not include epa riders. poll today showed 70% of people agree with that. today we are here to examine the environmental impact on drilling. drilling and hydraulic fracturing have led to expansion in the natural gas. we're glad to see we can in fact extract natural gas. because now it's actually economical. where a few years ago, it was not. the discovery of new resources created the opportunity for cleaner, domestically produced fuel. one the key reasons is the discovery of the shale in the
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appalachian region of the united states which underlaying portions of virginia, west virginia, ohio, maryland, pennsylvania, and new york. with drilling in this part of the country likely to increase expotentially in coming years, it's critical that we ensure that efforts to extract natural gas do in the threaten the air we breathe and the water we drink. i want to thank senator casey for taking this issue on in a responsible way. again, i want to thank senator cardin. his state has a lot at stake here as well. i'm one that believes the committee's oversight efforts is important. because there are question that needs to be answered. if we follow the science, it'll lead us the right way. event series of investigative reports in the "new york times" highlights the potential -- i say potential risks -- of natural gas and inconsistent efforts to regulate the booming industry. for example, the "times" reported that hydraulic
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fracturing process waste water is contaminated, including toxic metals, sames, carcinogens, and radioactive elements. these are facts. it's not a statement. a large amount of the waste water is disposed in municipal sewage treatment that may or may not be equipped to remove. they can discharge harmful levels into local water waste and solid waste produced may contain an array of toxins. without the oversight, it poses threats to aquatic life and human health, especially when public drinking water rely on water waste where water is being discharged. concerns have been raised for the chemicals used in the fracture process can contaminate ground water. however, federal, state
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regulators and concerned citizens haven't had the information to determine if it's causing ground water contamination. some companies have limited access on the chemicals they use in their drilling fluids. the federal government does not require drilling operation tours to fully expose the chemicals. some state such as wyoming require exclosure, some states are taking responsible action here. the industry has also recently launched a voluntary disclosure effort. that's encouraging too. but we have a long way to go before full disclosure is consistent and industry-wide practice. i believe in disclosure. let the facts come out and we'll make a reasonable decision, i believe. so i've highlighted only a few of the health and environmental issues that have been associated with natural gas drilling. additional issues include air pollution, impacts on water supply, due to the millions of
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gallons of water that are needed at each natural gas well. so given the array of potential impacts the need for more study, the state of new york is taking a time out of hydraulic fracturing. choosing to fully study the issues first before allowing widespread drilling. new york and other state is taking action here. the u.s. epa has also been directed by congress, directed by congress to study the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on water supplies. i expect the agency we use an independent, comprehensive, and scientific process to provide congress with unbiased information. there's much that we need to learn to move forward in a way that ensuring safe and responsible drilling that is protective of our air and water. i think those have to go together. this hearing is an important step in the epa committee -- in the epw committee's oversight on this issue. i certainly look forward to hearing from my colleagues and the other members on the panel. thank you.
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>> thank you,. chairman? >> thank you. oil and natural gas are a critical part of the mix. we have oil, gas, coal, to wind. these resources provide an opportunity for our state and nation, it means jobs, economic security, as well as energy security. wyoming right now ranks second in the country in natural gas production. the oil and gas industry supports nearly 20,000 jobs in the state of wyoming. we're talking about a state with a population of only about a half a million people. the revenues generated from oil and gas exploration are invested right at home. it helps build schools, roads, water system, it helps sends kids to college in our state through the hathaway scholarship program. senator inhofe gave a compelling litany of success stories across the country. i want to share a left from the "wyoming oil and gas conservation commission." the commission regulates oil and
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gas, including hydraulic fracturing in wyoming. here are a couple of quotes. wyoming has no documented cases of ground water contamination. from 1999 to 2010, over 46,000 stimulation treatments were performed in wyoming. almost 100% of oil and gas wells hire hydraulic fracture stimulation to be commercial. i request a copy of this letter be placed in the record. >> without objection. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it provides details about my home state's rules for hydraulic fracture being of. in wyoming, we have been producing oil and gas for a long time. the left mentions over 46,000 of these procedures from 1999 to 2010. we take this issue very seriously.
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i appreciate senator boxer's comment about wyoming doing it right. it is about both our environmental stewardship and about jobs. the state demonstrated this when it updated its rules just this last year. the changes include increased transparency requirements for hydraulic fracturing. industry is required to disclose all of the chemicals used before and after fracturing. most of america's gas is produced with fracturing, without it, the resources will be remained locked away and it's a threat to our energy security, financial security, and our national security. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. we will now turn to our colleagues as our first panel will start with senator cornyn. >> thank you, chairman cardin. thanks to chairman boxer, the chairman of the full committee, and senator inhofe, the ranking member and barrasso, it's good to be with you today. as senator inhofe noted,
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fracting has been around a long time. about 60 years. what's changed the state of play has been the advent of horizontal drilling. if you fly into dallas-fort worth airplane, you will be met with scenes of active drilling going on there thanks to the directional drilling that is capable from a single platform going out a mile or more into some of these shale formations. i'd glad to have the opportunity to share the perspective of my state on that practice, which i'd proud to say we help department and which is essential to the development of three shale plays in our state, the barnett around fort fort wo. i want to focus on three points, texas has app bountiful supply of natural gas. it has implications for job creation, economy, and national
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security. it -- states are effectively regulating hydraulic fracturing already. federal regulation bit epa would inevitably lead to cumulative regulation, bureaucratic delays, and reduce the production of the resource. in texas, the oil and gas industry provides more than 1.7 million jobs and accounts for 25% of our state's economy. over 11,000 wells have been completed in the barnett shale which as i said is in the dallas-fort worth area. one the nation's largest active fields. the barnett shale contributes over 20% of the total texas natural gas production. and in south texas, a very exciting development there with the eagleford shale. according to a recent study by the university of texas at san antonio, the long-term regional implications of the boom in
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south texas is staggering. according to the study, under modest assumptions, by 2020, the shale is expected to account for close to 11.6 billion in close state product, $21.6 billion in economic output impact, and support close to 67,000 roughly 68,000 full-time jobs. the haynesville shale in texas was not commercially viable until a few years ago, but it is now thanks to advancing technology. i recently went to a drilling rig outside of texas that represents the latest improvement on horizontal drilling using more energy efficient engines, leading to shorter drilling times and reducing the impact on surrounding areas. the proliferation of these domestic resources has contributed to texas' ability if not unique nearly unique in this recession to actually add jobs to our economy. yet the job creators and workers
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on the particular rig were anxious about what they could expect from washington in terms of additional and dupe liukative regulation. it has been used in tens of thousands of wells already. it has been studied by the environmental protection agency, ground water protection council, interstate oil and gas impact commission, and in each case, hydraulic fracturing has been judged to be environmentally sound. at every step in the drilling process, energy produces are subject to state regulations already, as well as federal requirements under the occupational health and safety, the environmental response compensation, and liability, and the toxic substances control act. as you can see, the federal government is already actively involved. this week the ground water protection council and the interstate oil and gas unvailed the landmark web base for the disclosure of chemical additives
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used in the fracting process as illuded to by chairman boxer, this is important information. energy companies now have a single source to pubicly disemployee. they are already aware of what check calls are being used and hydraulic fracturing hadn't been the culprit. however, i must say that i'm joined here at the table by my good friend senator casey who i know is proposing legislation that would go beyond public disclosure and give the epa authority over fracturing for the first time in the nation's history. there's no need to destroy the partnership between state and federal regulators and put the epa in the driver seat. we've seen them through aggressive regulatory efforts engage in a lot of activity, which frankly is harmful to our economy.
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and we've seen what happened when over regulation and misinformation become the common narrative. additional players of red tape create a death by a thousand cuts that run people out of business, and take jobs as well as local, state, and federal tax revenue. without hydraulic fracturing, access to gas resources would be substantially restricted. i thank the committee for having the hearing and thank you for having me come testify on a very, very important topic. >> thank you, senator cornyn. senator casey. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you for hearing, chairman boxer, thank you as well for your testimony and ranking member inhofe, and joined by latenberg and barrasso, i want to thank senator cornyn for his testimony. let me first ask if i can place my whole statement in the record. thank you, i'll be belief. i'll start with history.
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in our state, we went through most of the 19th century and roughly about half of the 20th century not getting it right as it relates to the extraction of a natural resource, and in this case, coal and balancing that with environmental regulation to make sure we're protecting public health and the environment. after 1950, we began to get it right in our state. our state passed legislation by the clean streams law in the 1960s, and as time went on, we started to do a much better job of regulating and making sure we've getting the balance right. today we have to get it right. we have to be able to at the same time create jobs, and this will be a tremendous increase in jobs in pennsylvania as a result of natural gas extraction, we also have, of course, the availability of a domestically-produced source of energy. that's good news. we need to pursue that.
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but we have to balance both of those with the kind of protection for public health and safety as well as making sure that ground water and drinking water is protected. i'll speak about my legislation in a moment. but it reached a point in our state where after all of the history and all of that learning and experience that our state constitution was amended in the early 1970s, it's a very simple statement. but it's an important statement for our commonwealth and our country. art 27 of the pennsylvania constitution says the people shall have a rate to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural scenic, historic, and aesthetic values of the environment. that obligation that we hold the environment as trustees for future generations. and that's the directive from
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our state's constitution. it's not optional. it's not a maybe, it's not a i hope you can do it. it's a direct and constitutional directive. i live in a state where that directive is very important to the commonwealth and very important, i think, to people across the state. i think we can get this right. i don't think there's any question about it. but unfortunately now even though the process has been around a while, the hydraulic fracturing process, there's still a lot of questions about whether or not it will have some of the environmental impact that some are concerned about. i don't think it has to in any way slow things down. these questions are being raised in the state where over four or five year period of time we are averaging only 17 wells drilled a month. now we're well above 120 wells a month being drilled. nothing is slowed down here. tremendous growth of the industry and tremendous opportunity with it.
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as we're doing that, we got to make sure we get it right. let me highlight, i have three bills. one that deals with emergency at well side and job training. i'll skip over those. they will be in the my testimony. just on the hydraulic fracturing. we are trying to amend the safe drinking water act and the definition of quote underground injection, unquote, to include underground injection of fluids or propping agents used for hydraulic fractureing related to oil and gas. we're trying to close the loophole in the law as it stands now. and secondly, it would require public disclosure of the chemical constituents, but not the proprietary information. of course, if you analogize that to the ingredients in something, you'd be making or baking a cake or something like that. we don't have to -- we're not
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asking this legislation that the proprietary information is made a part of public disclosure. but just the chemicals. the good news here is we're getting a good bit of cooperation and help from the industry. companies are disclosing what we'll have some debates account level and nature of the duskily sure. i think the one that will cause the most conflict is regulation. i'm in favor of a national standard. why should we have a set of tough environmental rules that protect drinking water and ground water in one state, and have a state next door or across the country have a whole other set of rules. so i think we can get this right. i appreciate the opportunity to speak about this. and i'm grateful to be joined by senator cornyn at the table. i think we are both running out the door. >> right. senator casey, let me thank you for contributions that you are taking to this debate. i think your legislation is one that we want to consider very
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closely. senator cornyn, we thank you very much. our objectives are the same. we know we have a large amount of natural gas. we want to make sure that we can get that safely and use it for our energy security here in america. with that, the two of you are excused, thank you very much. >> the first panel will consistent of robert perciasepe, administrator of the environmental protection agency. mr. perciasepe, nice to have you back. you may proceed as you wish, your entire statement will be made part of our record. >> i have to remember the push the button. madam chair, mr. chairman, and ranking member inhofe, thank you for inviting me to testify today. i'm pleased to be here to discuss natural gas production
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and epa's role in ensuring that public health and the environment are protected. let me begin by remarks by saying that natural gas is a very important fuel for our country. it can enhance our domestic energy options, reduce our dependence on foreign supplies, and serve as a bridge fuel to the future and to renewable energy sources. if produced responsibly, natural gas has the potential to improve air quality, stabilize energy prices, and provide greater certainly about the future and energy preserves. as president obama said in a recent town hall meeting, recent innovations have given us the opportunity to tap large reserves of natural gas, perhaps a serge re's worth in the shale under our feet. now we have to make sure we are doing it safely without polluting the water supplies. in addition, the president has ordered the epa, department of intier your, and department of energy to work together with industry, environmental community, and states to come up
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with best practices for the safety. making sure our water supply is safe is what i'd like to talk about today. the clean water and safe water act are the primary that we use to ensure natural gas through a process called hydraulic fracturing or fracting does not impair water quality. we believe natural gas can be and must be instanted properly. if improperly managed, hydraulic fracturing would potentially result in public health and environmental practices. at any time of the well and associated operations, such impact to water would include stress on surface water and ground water supplies given the use of fresh water for these operations, potential contamination of drinking water aquifer, and compromise water quality, and these con --
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contaminates could include salt. we know epa will not hesitate to protect americans who's health is at risk. we remain committed to working with officials on the production activities. epa will not only use the authority that congress has given it, but we are also leading on understanding the science behind potential drinking water contamination from fracting. epa launched a study to understand the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water. when completed, the peer review research study will help us better understand the conditions that maybe associated with the drinking water resources, as well as factors that lead to human health exposure and risk. while we await the results, we will also use our legal authorities where appropriate. while congress exempted oil and gas from several environmental laws, a number of environmental
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protections continue to apply. for example, while the energy policy act of 2005 excluded hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas production from permitting under the safe drinking water underground ejection and control program, these activities are still regulated understood the safe drinking water act when diesel fuels are used as fracting fluids. also flow back and produced water through injection is still regulated under the safe drinking water act. in addition to our authorities under the safe drinking water act, epa regulates waste water from oil and gas under the clean water act. when they are discharged into publicly-owned treatment and surface water. under both of these laws, states play a leading role. for statements with fully delegated programs, states have the responsibility in making sure the laws are followed. epa provides guidelines to the states on how to follow these rules and to make sure they are
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addressing all of the threats to public health. the issues surrounding natural gas extraction are lengthy and complicated. by helping manage environmental impact, natural gas production can and will proceed in a responsible manner that producting public health and enhances our options. i'll be happy to take any questions at this time, mr. chairman. >> mr. perciasepe, thank you for your testimony. i agree with the points that you make. there are significant environmental laws that give epa authority to act in this area. i want to just start by, i think there's general agreement in the committee and congress. we want to be able to tap into the natural gas reserves in this nation. we believe that is the energy source that we have. we want to be able to obtain that energy source, and we want to do it in a safe and environmentally sound manner. but as you point out, you have
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certain responsibilities under environmental laws that you are responsible to enforce. i listen to senator inhofe talk about how the fracting practice works so far under ground. we all understand that. you inject fluids that contain certain chemicals. those fluids then are extracted, when they are extracted, they bring out not only the original fluids, but they bring out a whole host of potential pollutants that could be very damaging to public health. the question is what then happens to that fluid that is removed during the fracting procedures. as i understand it, best practices but many of the gas companies use is to recycle that. that's fine. they recycle it, take out the hard chemicals that they can, the pollutants, and dispose of them properly and reuse the fluids in a way that is constructive to getting more
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natural gas. in some cases, they inject the fluids back into the earth and underground wells. that is also cases have been done at a very sound environmental way. but in some cases, they tick it to the waste water treatment facility plant that is close by. which to me presents significant problems. let me just -- i saw a letter that was sent by epa, the regional administrator, shawn garbin to the pennsylvania environmental agency where the epa said waste water resulting from gas drilling operations contained material that may present a threat to human health and aquatic environment. many of them are not removed and discharges may cause or contribute to impaired drinking water quality from downstream users, or harm aquatic life. well, it seems to me that you
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have the responsibility to make sure that the waste water treatment facilities are, in fact, complying with the permit. if you believe there's a danger to the health -- public health because of the inability to remove certain pollutants, you need to take action. my question is has epa taken action, why not? >> thank you for that question. there are a number of factors that would be involved with how we take action when the fluids are used in a publicly owned treatment. that is a general statement. there needs to be care taking that pollutants won't go through the sewage treatment, or they don't disrupt the sewage treatment plants operation in the case that you sited in pennsylvania, the regional administrator has been working with the state.
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we have been issued in the past information collection so that we can understand what was going on to the different sewage treatment plants and in many cases, the sewage treatment plants have stop taking some of the fracting fluids and produce water. we are not process of working with pennsylvania, pennsylvania has responded to that letter, that the regional administrator has sent and we feel like we're making good progress there. >> well, we appreciate that. some of us think this is a pretty clear issue. and that there needs to be pretty definitive action by epa so that we can avoid this public health risk. there are other areas that you could enforcing the environmental laws. oz you know, there's no exemption if diesel is used in the fracting process. yet i'm not aware of any enforcing action taken by epa. am i wrong? have there been enforcement action taken against fracting
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privileges that endanger our environment? >> we have taken enforcement actions through issuing ordered whether we think there's an eminent or substantial endangerment. but in terms of enforcement where there maybe diesel fluids -- fuel being used for fracting, we're in the process of collecting information on that. we have information from congress, as well as their own information collection we've been doing. that's in the process of doing through enforcement procedures. let me yield, senator inhofe. i might have some questions here from the colleagues. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in response to the senator casey, i do want to point out that there are other points of view within the pennsylvania regarding the need for federal intervention in the regulation of hydraulic fraction, first of all to submit testimony from the record. the secretary of the
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pennsylvania's department of environmental protection, senator casey may not realize it, but according to secretary, pennsylvania already required the disclosure of fract fluids. as they pointed out, i'm quoting now, the state's new regulation require operators to disclose the chemical additives on a well by well basis.
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in the first eight hours at 24 companies signed on to use it and naim already uploading fracturing date of 309 wells people. the real largest companies really the largest companies are clamoring for this opportunity and participating. clearly the states are running successful or give the three programs. we are going to hear from some of them today and i would hope
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he would be able to stick around and listen to some of their testimony. on the federal level of course the epa is doing a study on the impact of the hydraulic fracturing and i also understand president obama asked the department of energy advisory board to look into and on top of that the white house council of environmental quality has been petitioned to study any cumulative impact and to help me understand these various studies in particular how they all fit together it would be helpful if you could commit to brief my staff on the efforts and on a regular basis maybe a quarterly basis and you always been willing to do that in the past and i'm sure you would do that that way we can probably see what this oversight is doing. now just one thing i was going to hold this up by the way and i'm sorry i didn't, this is marcella shale. this is what we are talking about, how they have to get the gas out of this kind of formation and the only way they can do it, so i would say that
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the states are different. this did oklahoma shale, we are talking about 30,000 northen kansas, their shale was between 3,000 to 4,000 apiece. louisiana is like 3 miles deep. pennsylvania, 2 miles deep, so it's different and that's why though one size fits all just doesn't really work in this case, so the question i would ask you is are they not doing a good job in the state's? >> [inaudible] >> the states that -- there are many states taking issue on this and as i mentioned in my oral testimony or on the front lines of the safe drinking water act where they have authority but let me just go back to the pennsylvania example for just a minute that you started with, senator. when the fluids were and produced water were being brought to the publicly owned treatment works, the
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responsibility for the discharge permit of that plant is the state's and the state's discharge permit from those did not contain limits on so that backend for the oversight between the state that i think is important to make sure that we have a level playing field but you are correct, there is no one-size-fits-all here. the geology and all these different and formations around the country are different, at different depths and there's different players in the supplementary rock levels so we have to be little get things in that way. our primary role is the oversight of the programs where they are running the programs providing guidance where we can and we see amend indeed determined we may take our own actions. >> my time is expired but i would say that once you start
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move in from the federal level and i say to my friend senator bozeman, he was in here during my statement i enlisted the state of arkansas that has a lot of these reserves and i just really am concerned over the regulation of we will hear that from some of the people on the next panel. thank you very much. >> senator boxer? >> i hear what my colleague saying about his preference for state regulation. i did cite an example though of new york just shutting down for the moment. because they are concerned, and i think senator d.c.'s name was mentioned by my colleague which he wasn't here to explain what he meant, but what i heard him say is his state constitution calls for defending the quality and make a right the clean water and clean air so if the state next door doesn't have the same
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type of law, but happens is it could be impacted i don't have a particular position on where we are going except we need to have the facts. i think that's the point and i want to ask about this. will the epa study look at all potential impact to the drinking water in putting in cut from waste water that is produced during the hydraulic fracturing process in your studies? >> senator, we are characterizing the fluids. we've gotten information from the companies and are going to be characterizing the produced water because the fluids don't for instance contain video nuclei. these are naturally occurring in the rock formation but they come out with some of the produced water. >> so the answer is yes? >> yes. >> can you assure they will do an independent scientific process to provide an accurate and unbiased assessment which will help us make sure drilling
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is done safely and responsibly and protect the public health? >> yes. not only will the study plan b peer reviewed before we even start to study the the actual results will be here reviewed as well. >> i want to ask a question about diesel fuel here. on january 31st member of representatives in the house and the cousin administrator jackson a letter providing the results of an investigation that found diesel fuel continues to be used in hydraulic fracturing. first of all, to your knowledge, is that true? and as you know the safe water drinking act exemption for the hydraulic fractions specifically doesn't include the use of diesel fuel so you still have the ability to regulate. that's my understanding. in 03 the epa signed a major drilling service company to eliminate the use of diesel and hydraulic fracturing of the patients. would you provide us an update on what efforts the epa is taking to protect public health from diesel fuel in the use of hydraulic fracturing.
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>> excuse me. the mou or moa i think it was in the methane production, not in a shale production. and so, that is where there was a concern because many of those four nations are at the more shallow depth. we are in the process of confirming and reviewing the information and we have received from congress. we have grown information requests to the companies and we're looking at that as well. >> as loveless mentioned the gallons of water produced in the process can contain radioactive elements, the growth and carcinogens. these reports indicate waste water is being sent to a municipal waste water treatment plants that may not be equipped to treat this waste which could result in a discharge of harmful toxins to the local water waste.
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what authority does the epa have to address the treatment of waste water from the natural gas drilling operations? >> there's several steps that have to be taken in terms of the use of a publicly owned treatment worked for the disposal of the fluids. first the limits have to be placed on the permit for the treatment plant. whether if the state is -- the agency that is running the npds delusion program in that state they need to put a limit on those plants. if the status of reading the pretreatment program which would be how he would treat the fluids before they go into the sewage treatment plant there would be required to do that. the epa is looking into guidance on what treatment might be hidden useful for those waste the first step would be obviously making sure we have the right limits on every plan that is going to be receiving the waste and that is part of our oversight for air vehicle.
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>> are you working with plans to accept the hydraulic to ensure adequate treatment is occurring? are you working with the plant themselves at this time? >> we have a state permitting the authority working with the states like we are doing in pennsylvania. >> okay. i will submit the rest of my question for the record. thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman and again thank you and the ranking member for having this hearing. it's very important. it's important to my state and really, juneau, just in the nation in general in the sense that we certainly need the resources that it engenders. now, currently, as it stands again the gas and the leal industry is regulated by the states as far as this type of thing? >> the states of the delegated the authority under the clean water act or safe drinking water act they are the ones that have
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been delegated authority. epa provides oversight of those states and i just went through an example of what that oversight might look like in a particular place. so that is in my written testimony also, senator, the detail of those interactions but it's like almost all of the other pollution laws that we have, in interaction and between the states and the federal government with the federal government oversight and delegation of authority. >> i think it's important as we have new technology, and certainly this is a new technology that hadn't been around very long. and it's a very effective technology that we understand the potential risk and do it in a sound way. i guess my feeling is that the agency is the responsibility of providing good science to help the state's in making their decisions. but i feel very strongly that it does need to turn in at the
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state level, and in the past the oil industry has worked fairly well in doing that and there's a good record there. so again, i would be inclined to continue as we are now with the epa providing sound science. and how do you make it such that there is a part? will you be the ones selecting the people that do the study? >> in the peer review board? i guess what separation there is in that regard. >> we have a science advisory board the epa uses for its peer review, not all that many of its peer review -- >> and the science advisory board is appointed by the epa? >> yes, and it's an independent fact the oral advisory committee
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and it provides advice to the administrator on fallujah science matters and the senate panels of the need the expertise to look at a particular subject, and we use them -- the offering in many ways similar to the way the national academy of science and set up a panel to look at a particular matter of scientists in that field. >> thank you very much for your testimony. >> senator lautenberg? >> thank you mr. chairman. two things in life are more essentials and the water we drink and the government has few responsibilities that is critical to protecting the country's water supply. in going to use these couple of minutes for my statement. communities are reporting serious contamination of the water supplies from the drilling process that we are now looking
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at cracking and the environmental protection agency as we discussed here is widely known as powerless to protect these communities because and soon the republican congress advised president cheney's the test period but the epa from setting standards. this so-called halliburton local elaine is the chemicals in the ground in order to reach to get to the heart to reach natural gas. some states as we've heard have adopted strong laws to reduce the risk to their residents but let's face it, water doesn't recognize the state boundaries and you may live in a state that has strong lobbies but if the next door doesn't come in your water and your families could still be at risk. the risks to humans isn't limited to those who live near
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the drilling sites and during assume the process could be highly contaminated. then a recent "new york times" investigation revealed the waste water cannon and rivers and streams and even if it's taken to the waste water treatment plant the water often contains radioactive toxic materials that the treatment facilities cannot remove. we don't want to make any mistakes in our representation here. natural gas has its advantages. and it's critical for the energy needs. natural gas, cheaper and cleaner than coal and important to invest in the energy source for the country but nothing, nothing is more important than the health of our children and risking their health is in on acceptable price under any condition.
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we simply can't allow their drinking water or our rivers and streams to be contaminated by natural gas drilling. mini cleaner fuels to replace the oil but we can't allow the cure to be worse than the disease. that's why i joined senator casey and others to introduce the bill to close the halliburton loophole and restore the epa ability to regulate cracking it. -- fracking to read the bill also require the chemical kaput companies to disclose the chemicals they use on the process. 25 years ago, i offered that the right to move law on the toxic chemical releases in the air to make sure people know about potential substances and their communities. parents have a right to know what is in the fracking that could contaminate the water their children drink. and more information on the contaminants which were happy to
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see epa undertaking would empower the citizens and help the government to make better decisions on the pollutants in the water supply we need the natural gas but also clean water, look for to hearing from the witnesses about how we can work together to ensure natural gas is done as safely as possible. now i want to ask you and mr. perciasepe a question about the air in new jersey is already by coal-fired power plants to the west of us and now unprecedented numbers of hydraulic fracturing wells in pennsylvania and other nearby states. what can we expect with air pollution coming to new jersey for these activities?
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>> the air emissions from the gas activities would be regulated under the clean air act and on the size and type of commission that it is. there have been problems with some areas of the country where the emissions from all of the activity going on related to natural gas extraction that it is created an increase in the emissions of those compounds or nitrogen oxide so it is certainly something that would have to be carefully looked at as there is authority under the act. >> that's the conclusion you have come to when will we be able to find out what is happening hair and what we can do to prevent it from coming folder new jersey?
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>> well, the clean air act requires technology to be used and this is a process the epa is looking at as it goes about working with the state's and the industry directly on those standards would be used. of the things i mentioned is the president has asked the department of energy and interior who has responsibilities on public land epa who has all the regulatory oversight responsibilities to find the best practices and one of the things we want to make sure we are looking at is what are the best practices to be used to minimize the impact of the actual practice of gas extraction. the other side of the coin is the bigot and urged the pollution using natural gas so
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that being in the coming shortly balance that out in the long term merkley plants >> senator udall? >> thank you mr. chairman and for holding this hearing. i would ask unanimous consent to put my opening statement in the record. >> without objection. >> thank you. >> the energy policy act concluded an exemption for hydraulic fracturing from underground injections. control permits, however there was also an exemption from the exemption as you are well aware for the hydraulic fracturing with diesel fuel. meaning if you in a install the exemption did not apply recently found millions of diesel fuel had been injected into thousand five including hundreds of dolphins of the ones in mexico.
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what is the epa position on this? do you need a federal permit to inject diesel fuel underground in a hydraulic fracturing operation, and if not, please explain the court rulings that came out in 1997 and the 2005 exemption for an exemption for diesel. >> hydraulic fracking is subject to the safe drinking water act requirements in -- >> that's under the court ruling, correct? >> what's under almost of the plane reading of blah, blah the 2005 law that you referred to. we have the information we received from the congress and we also are in the process of gathering our own information as
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we are going through our analysis and so we are looking into this issue of the diesel use and what we call upon soon. >> but my very specific question here in the sense is the legal question do you need a permit to inject diesel fuel? what is the epa position on that specific question? >> or the state has privacy and i have the state of texas railroad commission the ranking member senator inhofe mentioned earlier has actually issued a letter inside the state of texas saying they can't use diesel fuel without getting a permit so that is -- >> that's the texas situation. some of it is the same law before the whole country. >> what they object to the requirement state in doing what texas is doing then are you requiring a permit? >> that's what we are trying to
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find out and work with to try to gather the information where the fuel depot fluids may be used. we have the information i was given to us and we are also getting information from the companies now. >> so, the answer to that question do you need a permit to inject diesel fuel you're not getting an answer to that. >> yes. the subject to the safe drinking water act. >> but are you requiring if the state isn't requiring a permit or you require a permit cracks >> we have to find out where that is our investigation that's going on now, where are these fluids been used? we have to know where it's being used to require the permit. >> let me go on and be clear. it is using diesel fluids for hydraulic fracturing and shale is subject to the safe drinking water act, would be required to
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get a permit? >> with the gentleman yield for one moment seconded the facts straight on this issue? >> you're taking the chairman's time. >> i will give you an extra minute. [laughter] according to our information at around 19 states that are using eisel as a part of their injection process and that between 2005 and 2009 there were 32 million gallons of injection fluids used that contained the sole. i would appreciate if you could verify that for us and i think senator udall's plant that it appears permits are needed and which obscene any enforcement of this by the epa. i think the gentleman for yielding and i want to make sure we get the right numbers. you mention hundreds of thousands. we've dirty $2 million that were used that it would be peaceful. >> they may be asking it another way if they didn't get a permit the were in violation of the law.
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>> yes. >> okay, good. >> now moving on here, in the far sell bushfield much of the produced water is not disposed of bye injection wells as you are aware but rather is transported the waste water treatment plants many of them municipal and them treated and discharged into waterways. and here i am trying to get at the best practices. is this better or worse than disposing the preus water and underground injection? >> underground injection for the disposal was going to be permitted to deal with those issues. the problem we have in many places if all the want to say this is everywhere that the discharge limits on the actual sewage treatment plant the limits it has to discharge into the water that its permit to discharge may not have the limits on at for the chemicals
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and constituents that might be in the fluids going into the plant to be treated so that there would be no way to know if it is meeting those limits before its discharge to the water. i'm not saying that is the case everywhere but many publicly owned sewage treatment plants haven't put limits on their discharge to deal with the constituents of the fracking fluid or the produced water and that is the issue we are working on in pennsylvania for instance. >> and so you are seeing that as a problem it sounds like. if they don't adjust their wheat waste water treatment to deal with it is coming in, which isn't like municipal sewage is much different in terms of the constituents, that could be a problem and you are trying to get on top of that. >> either putting a limit on the planned figuring out how the plant handles it or treating the fluids before it is brought to the plant so that it can be
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compatible with the plant those are the two approaches you can take to the sewage treatment plant whereas a permit class ii, i think that's true, -- underground injection would be permitted to deal with those issues. >> but today we have been just alluding to produce water into trucks and driving it over to the waste water treatment plant and then dumping it into the waste water treatment plant. are you aware that they are preaching it? >> and number of those instances where we have learned about those are ones we are working directly with the states or gathering information to the enforcement authority under the clean water act. >> thank you very much for your service. >> senator merkley? >> thank you, mr. chair, and i want to ask you about the article the cornell university
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researchers cannot with recently that try to taha will get the impact of the trucking and the fugitive methane and carbon dioxide and other initial finding was that natural-gas is worse than cold in terms of its greenhouse gas footprint over a 20 year period roughly equal to call over 100 footprints which is a real surprise to many of us and is this an issue that epa are analyzing and looking at? >> we've had a voluntary program working with companies to tighten up their system to reduce fugitive emissions of methane which is the natural gas. however this study which i don't think has actually been published yet although it's been discussed in the newspapers and
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the basic outlines of it are available is an important piece of information we need to bring into the discussion. if it indeed is some leakage out of the system these are generally problems that can be addressed through proper controls or through collection controls at the wellhead so i think it needs to be taken into account. the other issue i mentioned earlier on the clean air, the same kind of techniques to reduce the emissions for the regular criteria are also reduced the emissions of methane, and this is something that is going to have to be looked at over the long haul we are going to have to fugitive emissions can be reduced. >> my understanding is that a lot of these emissions are the result of actually the fracking
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fluid carrying the net into the service and it goes into a pond or anywhere else that methane then gases into the atmosphere, so if it is contained in the fluid, what strategies are there that could address this? >> there are technologies that can be used when the fluids come to the surface -- >> that's why masking. i'm asking what technologies? >> i'm not familiar with the details. there are both tightening of the system but also collected and strict. i'm not 100% certain. we've been working with companies in a voluntary program to do some of these and i think i can follow-up with you if it is okay with giving you more specifics on what technologies have been tried and used we would be interested in sharing that with the committee and
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obviously it's something that if this study after we review it ads to this discussion we are going to definitely want to be looking as a country at reducing the emissions from these facilities, but in addition we want to be looking at reducing emissions of the criteria pollutants causing the ozone and other problems as well. so all of that can be done together in a common sense kind of way. >> are you familiar with the documentary quote coke gas land to"? >> generally familiar, yes. >> it is a dramatic demonstration that notes -- i just read the description of it, and so the film maker once the kitchen faucet and then holds a cigarette lighter up next to it and a ball of fire erupts from so much gas that has entered into the water supply from fracking in in the area.
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so, this is obviously pretty dramatic demonstration of the concern people have about the water supply. >> we definitely have examples and we've seen some where the drinking water supplies have been contaminated with methylene itself, and in those cases we learn of this the epa is taking enforcement action to correct those problems or deal with those problems. as senator inhofe showed earlier in his charge, which shows the early years being very deep, the actual well has to go through the drinking water so if it's not properly constructed it's conceivable and possible, and we have examples where it looks to see where we've seen methane contamination how that happened
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is with the subject of some of our analysis. spearman despite the halliburton lippold you feel like to have enforcement powers? >> when there is in dillinger and we have enforcement powers under the safe water drinking act. >> thank you. >> again, think you for your testimony. let me point out that the epa has authority to act in certain areas. and obviously, if we think it's not adequate then we will look at taking action and senator kec is introduce legislation. but it seems to me that it's pretty clear is a relates to the waste water treatment facility issues on the fluid's returned to the surface it's my understanding there is still seven waste-water treatment facility plants taking today the fluids coming out of fracking, and what you're own agency already acknowledging that it presents a threat to human help i would hope would be the
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highest priority as you will get the appropriate role for the epa. i think senator udall's pond concerning the eisel issue is one also requires the epa to take a more definitive action and senator merkley has raised important issue also so i hope that you will good on tv to respond to the urgency of some of these issues. as you will be pointed out you have the authority and it's now your responsibility to take action. is there any member seeking a second round? senator inhofe? senator merkley? if not, then -- yes, sir? >> i just want to confirm what you just said, senator, that the epa is acting on all these fronts. we are take action where there is imminent danger as we just discussed and i think if you can step back for a minute the dynamic between the states and federal government and how we are working on -- how we have
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shared our authority for many years there is certainly something the epa's responsibility and oversight is one that we are in -- we are very much pushing forward on in a very strong and strenuous way. if i step back to my opening comments and simply say providing a framework that provides public confidence in what we are doing here because of the great need the country has to develop these resources for our energy needs what we also need to do at the same time is get together and make sure we try to provide the confidence the public needs to allow this to happen. we will see in the long haul the situations where there is an unknown or uncertainty or that the states of new york for instance have to stop all activity because they are trying to figure of what's going on, so we need to be looking at it from that perspective on a national level how do we create that public confidence to move forward in the way we need to
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move forward, so i appreciate the chance to share some of these faults. >> we agree and want to work with you closely. the foundation and a host of other groups that petitioned the obama administration to the problematic environmental impact statement help understand the impact of all of the wells being currently operated. without objection, i will include in the record a copy of their petition. thank you had very much for your testimony. >> thank you. >> i will now turn to the second panel which consists of dr. bald summers, the acting secretary of the maryland department of the environment, dr. dan walz, the director of the center for health the environment and communities. mr. jack uppinger, jeff cloud, the vice chairman oklahoma conservation commission and david, the director of the colorado oil and gas conservation commission. we will start with dr. summers.
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welcome. >> you need to put your microphone on. >> okay. >> now you're on. >> chairman, ranking member on inhofe, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to share maryland's experience and concerns with hydraulic fracturing in the marcello shettle, i'm bob summers, acting secretary of the maryland department of the environment. the marcella shale formation underlines the county and part of allegheny county in maryland in the far western part of the state, and in movies to counties gas companies have released the gas rates are more than 100,000 acres. we're just beginning to enter into this. we currently have applications from two companies for a total
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of five wells. we are very mindful of the tremendous benefits that could accrue to the abandoned and the economy by exporting and exploiting these gas reserves but we are equally alert to the risks of adverse public health and environmental effects. our paramount concern is protecting public health, the environment and the ground and surface water quality. we are proceeding cautiously and deliberately and do not intend to allow drilling and fracking and marcel shalem maryland until these issues aren't resolved to our satisfaction. there's numerous issues we've heard a lot about those already. some of the things we are particularly concerned about the act of sustainability of the surface water and ground water and the regions the supply fracking, the minimum requirements for constructing casing and cementing wells, minimum requirements for the integrity testing of the wells,
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requirements for installing and testing a blowout prevention equipment, the potential for mass migration from the well including migration that can be induced from some of the leaders of the weld goes through versus the failure of the well itself, toxicity and transport of fracking fluids, proper handling and disposing of the naturally occuring radioactive materials and many other aspects of this complex operation that need to be controlled. in maryland we are moving forward and anticipate to take two stages in doing this. first, over the next year we are surveying existing practices and selecting best practices for drilling and fracking of the wells, these will cover all aspects of the preparation and design delivery and management material, drilling casing, cementing, fracking and waste
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disposal. after we develop this interim we will call to the gold standard and consider issuing permits for a small number of exploratory wells to be drilled in maryland and we will carefully monitor these to provide more detailed information that we can use in order to take the second step in our process using the data from the exploratory wells along with the result of other research gathering from the surrounding states and other areas. if we determine the gas production can be accomplished without unreasonable risk to the human health and in the environment but the department would then make the decisions on the applications for production wells. the commission will reflect all of these best practices and avoid public health and environmental harm. risk to public health and environmental harm. we need the federal government to take a more active role in studying and regulating the
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activities such as the deep naturally, horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracking and waste disposal, and why we believe the states should retain the responsibility and should be able to enact more stringent requirements if they desire the federal regulatory floor will ensure at least basic protection of public health. we believe the federal technical support and oversight such as it occurs now between the water act and safe drinking water act are particularly important to protect our interstate water such as the subsequent river, the potomac river chesapeake bay, though critical resources and in fact today we have right here and probably the potomac river water which also needs to be protected for the citizens in this area. we commend the congress for directing the u.s. cpa to conduct their research the state's need the federal government to lead and land
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resources to help us in this effort coming and we support the legislation that we've just heard discussed today to allow regulation under the federal law and safe drinking water act and to of require disclosure. so thank you for taking the initiative to inquire into this important issue and for providing this opportunity. happy to answer any questions. >> thank you, dr. summers and now dr. volz. >> thank you. thank you all for the opportunity at this joint hearing at this hearing an environmental impact. i believe the on conventional gas extraction in deep shale deposits presents considerable risks to public health and safety as well as to environmental resources
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particularly water quality and organisms. my testimony is going to cover three critical public health and environmental policy areas related to the unconventional natural gas production. number one, it's largely unregulated sightings of the wells, patterns of violation from the marcella shale that show impact on water resources and finally, i think a very important issue that has been brought up a couple of times, the toxic substances entering the surface water sources from disposal of the flow backwaters through the treatment and sewage treatment plants. for someone to talk about the unregulated side of the gas wells in areas of the population density which also occurred near schools, critical infrastructure , this is shown a slight three of my presentation
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that i gave to the committees today. on conventional gas extraction wells or highly industrialized operations that very little resemblance to what we know in northeastern united states conventional oil and gas exploration. these are as i said, highly industrialized, and there can be risks of catastrophic blow outs, explosion, and or five-year and can create an immediate interest situation. the unregulated side of the unconventional natural gas wells and production facilities in residential neighborhoods and critical infrastructure is very unwise, public health preparedness policy especially in light of tens of billions of dollars that we are spending in the federal state level to reduce the risk from terrorist attacks on usa citizens and
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damage to critical infrastructure. second, the higher rates and a differential patterns of oil and gas act violations, and they are listed on a slight four of my presentation are different as compared to conventional oil and gas wells and suggest a much greater impact to drinking water and aquatic resources. we have done a study at my out said that shows that marcello shale has about a 1.5 to four times depending on the denominator you use more violations than conventional oil and gas wells per offending well and that the violations are more serious and that the violations have a more direct impact on water quality. things like failure to minimize the accelerated erosion, employment erosion and
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sedimentation plans, discharge pollution to the water commonwealth of pennsylvania, many general violations of the clean stream law, failure to properly store, transport, process or disposal of residual waste and failure to adequately construct or maintain these impoundments that hold actually toxic flowback water. the third problem and the problem of my group has been looking at both sewage treatment plants and -- we have been looking a disposal flowback fluids through the plants. we sampled a treatment facility in indiana county pennsylvania called pennsylvania treatment, josephine facility, and we found that coming out of the types of
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the plant was discharged of nine pollutants essentially all in excess of the naturally recognized human and or aquatic health standards into the nearby creek. these contaminants included barry m. and what was coming out in the was at times the minimum risk level in the drinking water for children and 27 times the epa consumption concentration for fish and fish plus water. brougham models coming out in the water and it was its level was almost 10,000 times level of the water treatment facilities like to see in the background water of 100 parts per billion. benzene was found coming out at
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two times the drinking water standard and six times epa consumption criteria and 1.5 times the drinking water minimum risk level for children and last, we want to ethanol coming out of the pipes. this is an ether that is used in marcello shell gas extraction and we found coming out between 24 to 55 times the drinking water minimum risk level for the intermediate exposure for men, women and children thank you very much. >> thank you very much for your testimony. mr. ubinger? >> thank you, chairman boxer, jarman carvin, ranking member in half and ranking member sessions for the opportunity to present
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testimony on behalf of the pennsylvania environmental panel concerning work related to the shale gas development in pennsylvania. it goes without saying a number of the members have already spoken to this that there are enormous economic and strategic energy implications to the development of the gas resource but as you have all been quick to add it must be done right. pennsylvania participation in the nation's gas is relatively recent and has occurred over the past five years the development of the marcella formation and the development of the marcella gas pennsylvania has increased at an ever quickening pace and is expected to continue to do so we appreciate positive attributes of the shale gas development we are also cognizant that throughout its history it has paid an enormous price for the exploitation of its bountiful natural resources. in today's political discourse in many contexts, much is said about the burden that the current actions will impose of
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the future generations to come. when it comes to the legacy of natural resource exploitation we are the future generation and the cost of without restoration from prior resource exploitation is substantial if the lessons of the past have taught us anything is this while we are in the form reveals of the shield as industry, an industry we have a prominent part of the landscape for generations to come we must identify and quantify the impact to the land, water, air and communities and is published a regulatory framework that mitigates the impact to the greatest extent applicable for the avoidable environmental degradation is not part of our legacy in the future generations the written testimony we submitted to the committee staff last week describes our work over the past two and a half years and it defies the number of enhancements pennsylvania preexisting regulatory structure
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which we believe doherty essential to the prudent management of the gas development. i would welcome the opportunity to answer any questions the committee may have with respect the written testimony however but i would like to focus on the moment is the issue of of the cumulative impact and the question is how we efficiently acquire relevant information to objectively assess and mitigate a team of the impact of the variety of activities which are required to extract, process and move the gas from the wheel hit the market we believe they are assessing and then getting a can of the impacts are found in a program established in the river basin commission to regulate the water with drought for hydraulic factors. we applaud a robust of collection programs which predates the marcello jeal development in pennsylvania, however the data base to expand more information from the water areas of the marcello shettle regions used to make informed
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decisions for the authorization of the water with a drawl and informed decisions as to when the withdrawal must be suspended to avoid adverse impact. the key we think is the routine collection of data. similar data bases and programs are not currently feasible for assessing the cumulative impact of other attributes of the gas development such as discharge from the service management of waste water or air emissions from the development activities because the capacity to collect the data is not available. the pennsylvania environmental council firmly believes shale gas development cannot be properly managed without an investment in the capacity to routinely measure a can of the impact on the ongoing basis. we further believe the federal government as well as the state has a vital role of establishing and funding a continuing research agenda that will enable the collection evaluation of the data required to access and mitigate the cumulative impact. we also believe it is important that the shale gas industry and the government of that the
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federal and the state level to collaborate on projects to develop and demonstrate through data best management practices to mitigate impacts and require the implementation of the management practices throughout appropriate regulations. in closing, let me reiterate the successful development of the gas resources is economically important for the state's interest and strategically important to the country as a whole but it's critical we do it right. the the inslee in their middle council focused its efforts on the development of the regulatory program in pennsylvania which is based on projected information driven processes designed to identify and quantify impact including cumulative impacts and to mitigate the impact to the greatest extent possible through the best management practices appropriately codified in the regulatory framework. we believe our recommendations for the pennsylvania conserve is a model for others in the regulation of on conventional natural gas development. once again let me think the committee for the opportunity to present our testimony. >> thank you very much. mr. klaus?
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>> [inaudible] >> the opportunity to visit with you today about the regulation of hydraulic fracturing as the decades of experience in this regard and mike richter of testimony be submitted in the record. first given responsibility for the regulation in oklahoma at 1914 currently the commission has exclusive state jurisdiction over all oil and gas industry at tolino, including oversight and was that of rules aimed at pollution prevention and protecting the state's precious water supplies. presently there are over 185,000 wells in oklahoma and thousands of miles of gathering transmission pipelines. the recent years, the shale in oklahoma has become an important source of natural gas for the nation. the development of oklahoma shale like others in the united states has been made possible by
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a horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies. hydraulic fracturing as the senator inhofe said has been used in oklahoma for over 60 years and more than 100,000 wells have been hydraulically track dirt over the period. over the more than half century of the hydraulic experience there hasn't been one single documented instance of contamination to the ground water for drinking water as a result of the process. to say that we take protection of the water quality seriously would be an understatement. the rules are constantly reviewed and updated with that in mind. and with a general prohibition against pollution of any service of the subsurface press water and completion activities. oklahoma corporation commission rules address procedures in the event of unanticipated operational or mechanical changes. standard commission rules also require an operator to submit a completion report within 30 days after the completion activities, the volumes and of the fluids used in this process require it
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on the form. last fall, the oklahoma corporation commission and volunteered to have its hydraulic fracturing program reviewed by 12-year-old multi stakeholder organization known as stronger or by its full name state review of oil and natural gas environmental regulations. from october 2010 through january 2011 again the multi stakeholder by the stronger conducted an in-depth examination of the oklahoma natural look regulatory program the review team included was lee savage, the texas railroad commission, wilma of louisiana, and a critic of the domestic oil and gas industry and jim collins of the independent petroleum association of america. official observers included the oklahoma sierra club and the united states environmental protection agency region six. the review team concluded that the oklahoma program is overall well-managed professional and meets its program objectives.
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incidentally, the u.s. epa and department of energy have provided a grant funding to stronger to support its activities. i would also note that in oklahoma the collaboration involving the regulator of the oil and gas industry other stakeholders in my state agency staff have repeatedly led to the successful if a woman of rules and policies to address environmental protection issues particularly the protection of water. an example there are two particular that are exceptionally clean in southeastern oklahoma in the reservoir that provide a high-quality water to the city of oklahoma city about 100 miles away. they're also on top of the deep rock deposits that hold huge amounts of natural gas which in the best interest of oklahoma and the nation we want to allow the petroleum industry to find and produce. without the need of any federal intervention the city of oklahoma city the regulated oil and gas industry and the state work together to come up with protections because we all realize that it's in our mutual best interest to ensure proper practical water and
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environmental protections with out cutting off access to the resources. major life itself didn't force oklahoma with any large natural bodies of water so fresh water is especially precious in my state. oklahoma has more than 50 man-made lakes and it's worth noting that texas is currently suing oklahoma in federal court to get the state's water. we must be doing something right. all of us can agree their knees to the rules of the road and the need to be followed and enforced. we are making sure that the rules are followed and that oklahoma's water and our environment or protect it and our record is clear the state regulations are the best way to meet the goals. the fellow commissioners both hold elected statewide positions. we are directly accountable to the fellow oklahomans and we have the vested personal interest in ensuring the water is protected. thank you mr. chairman. mr. neslin?
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>> thank you. thank you for our opportunity to perspective on the public health and the environment while we develop our oil and gas resources. my name is david siegel, director of the colorado oil and gas commission. we have a rich natural heritage and thriving outdoor economy. i want to focus my comments today on the subject of hydraulic fracturing. most colorado is 44,000 wheel and gas wells as well as the thousands of new wells would be drilled in the coming years rely on the hydraulic fracturing. this technology is vital to unlocking the oil and gas reserves which are critical source of the domestic energy and provide a good paying jobs and the needed tax revenue to the communities. but it's also essential this development occurs with an environmentally responsible manner. it's the regulatory mission and
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everyone at or agency takes it very seriously. to this and the environmental professionals have investigated hundreds of ground water complaints over the years we found no verified instance of the hydraulic fracturing are in ground water. these investigations are all publicly available. we've also required operators to test water quality repeatedly and over time in more than 1900 water wells and one of our most product of natural gas fields. thousands of nearby oil and gas wells have been hydraulically fractured and structuring fluids were reaching those water wells than you would expect the waters chemical composition to change. but independent analysis has found no statistically significant changes to those waters. this analysis is likewise publicly available. in addition, we have comprehensively updated our regulations to address a broad range of environmental issues. the current rules rex the responsible balance between energy development and environmental protection and they reflect substantial input
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from the local governments, oil and gas companies, environmental groups and thousands of individuals from across the state. other states have taken or are taking similar action in putting wyoming, oklahoma, ohio, pennsylvania and arkansas. the recent state rulemakings exemplify the benefits associated with state oversight and cite specific regulations and they specifically address hydraulic fracturing. in colorado for example, wells miss b ks and cemented to protect dhaka for furs and they must be monitored during hydraulic fracturing. if chemicals including hydraulic fracturing fluids and provide this opportunity to make the state and certain health care professionals their managers index and environmental protections for oil and gas to grumet in public drinking water sources. additionally the pressure testing, water wells and one is required for the shallow or cold bed methane wells and enhance requirement apply to the permitting, lining, monitoring
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to ensure waste including any flowback of hydraulic fracturing fluids is properly contained. these regulations were important and substantially improved the ground water protection but we haven't stopped there. we are continuing to take pro-active cost-effective steps to ensure hydraulic fracturing protect the environment. first, we and other states have worked closely with the ground water protection council on the launch of the new website, frackfocus.org. it encourages gas operators to voluntarily provide information on the chemicals they use to hydraulically factor the well and can't let their own regulatory framework. second, we have arranged to have other hydraulic fracturing regulations professionally audited the summer by stronger and a national organization consisting of the state regulators and industry and environmental representatives. a stronger recently committed oklahoma as you heard of pennsylvania, ohio and louisiana and we are having them reviewed
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colorado's program to determine whether further improvements can be made on our end. further, we are actively investigating the alleged use of diesel fuel or fluid containing diesel fuel for hydraulic fracturing in colorado. while we believe our regulations would have prevented contamination drinking water supplies we are collecting information to independently assess that issue. fourth, we continue to address public concerns on this issue in an open and transparent manner. just last february the commission convened a full public hearing to examine allegations of the water will contamination. in that case to commend the commissioners diverse representing and vital, industry, local government and other sectors unanimously determined that hydraulic fracturing had not impacted the well in question. in summary, i want to stress how seriously we take the subject and that many other states are taking similar action. our experience and that of other states demonstrates how the hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas activities are
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effectively regulated at the state level. we are highly diverse regional and local conditions are more fully understood and where the rules can be tailored to fit the needs of local reasons, local landscape of local communities. thank you. >> thank you all for your testimony. i'm going to urge the committee members to limit themselves to a four minute round, if you can get the panel completed with a vote on the floor. let me think all of you for your testimony. mr. cloud i want to compliment the actions taken in the state of oklahoma i think it provided a good model that should be used in other states. i'm very impressed that the back weld light speed action can either be recycled or must be put into has understand it one of the containment wells which operates under the clean water act, it seems to me that you've been able to do exactly what was indicated that the federal government working with the
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state to develop the right framework dealing with natural gas extraction. why is it that you prohibit the back flow from entering into the waste water treatment facility plants? why have you taken that action? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i believe that the state has for many years making hydraulic fracturing for 60 years we've kept a close eye on it and we just make sure that the fluids be kept out of the water supplies and they are never set to water treatment facilities as you outlined. only to be recycled and it to be injected into the abandoned wells. >> i'm curious as to why pennsylvania and other states are still allowing the backflow to enter treatment facility plants. either one of my friends from prĂ­ncipe and have an explanation as to why the state is still permitting that? >> i think i do, senator.
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it essentially boiled down to the very pressing need to dispose of a lot of material. there are wells drilled quickly and i believe it was an oversight by our pennsylvania department of environmental protection that a lot of this material was going to these treatment facilities that are very inefficient as well as the savitt treatment plants and no one had a handle on it. >> there are wells that could have been injected to require transportation but there are wells that would have accepted it. >> in ohio, sir but it's a cost issue i assume so it is a pragmatic decision made which is we never want to see public health put at risk due to a pragmatic judgment. dr. summers commanders and the maryland legislature didn't act on moratorium, but as i understand, what you were saying at the present time maryland is
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uncomfortable moving forward until you understand the practices that will be used and safe for public health. >> that's correct. we have just started to receive permits. we've been watching very closely with pennsylvania reviewing the work out of new york looking at what's going on in other states very interested to look more closely at how wyoming is handling this, our plans are to proceed very cautiously and make sure we do have the best practices in place we are able to get advantage that these other states have more experience than we do and also trying to work with the environmental protection agency because as i said, we believe that their role is very critical in providing the background information and technical support.
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>> senator inhofe? >> thank you mr. chairman. i'm sorry about the votes coming up. i think you're doing the right thing though, although we would all like to have more time to ask questions. what the first of all talk to the commissioner cloud and director neslin. you didn't say what percentage of the wells would be hydraulically fracked. been have a percentage of the state of oklahoma and colorado there would be using that technology? ..
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especially in pennsylvania. could you tell us how this water is disposed of in your two respect escape? kind of briefly. >> certainly. in colorado, a majority of water resistor circuit overuse. we talk about the disposal, final disposal, 60% is deep underground. 20% of the evacuated. about 20% is just charged a surface water understate water quality permit that do contain environmental health-based standards. >> in oklahoma, we recycle most of the phrack water come up when it's used if we have 10,500 injection cells be put the watertown, fluid sound. >> so it's roughly the same as they're doing in colorado.
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how do your agencies responded investigate groundwater complaints? >> director neslin, and we tell us how you did it quite >> certainly, this is event that led to the hearing last february. a couple things were important. we got in an inspector on spending having 16 hours collect mean samples for analysis. this inspector is a phd in chemistry and 25 years experience. he spent over four hours investigating the alleged intimidation of work with other members of our staff, including their engineering staff is already 30 page report on the documents in his investigation into various types of analysis were used as part of the exercise. when the landover was dissatisfied with the conclusions that had drawn, which was very been no impact from hydraulic fracting, he received a half-day hearing from her commission within 60 days.
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then her commission unanimously affirmed this pathfinding. i think in terms of the rigor of the analysis, timeliness work and transparency of the process, this compares very well. >> about the same in oklahoma quite >> it is about the same, senator. given extensive field staff better over the state monitoring the boats as well as dvd. >> and then i only have about to be second class. i like to have you talked about new technologies coming along. is there a procedure they can find to commissioner cloud, where you investigate these new technologies and what dangers, and what to do to mitigate these? >> as i said, our staff is i'm top of it all the time. if anybody has a complaint in colorado, we are 24 hours accessible and we try to stay on top of every single instance. >> thank you very much.
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dr. volz, there's a very negative article in the pittsburgh tribune review yesterday that i'm sure that you have read it now. i'd like to ask that be made a part of the record. >> that objectionable be included in the record. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> sunder merkley. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. neslin, to listen to your testimony so that there's never been any problem in colorado and we found no verified incident of hydraulic fracting, harming groundwater. how do we square that with the documentary are referred to earlier where mike marcum takes and pours water out of his kitchen phosphate, holds a cigarette lighter to it and after a few seconds, i quote, a ball of fire erupts out of the sink, almost enveloping marcum's
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head. the source for flammable water in a process called hydraulic fracting. how is escorted no incentive fracting or water. >> we investigated that very well. the fact that the willis completed in a cold beer information that contains what is called biogenic methane, unrelated to oil and gas development. there are published papers that the u.s. geological survey in colorado geological survey dating back within 30 years, verifying that fact that many foreign nations there is naturally occurring biogenic methane, not attributable to oil and gas development, not released by oil and gas development. the allegations were thoroughly investigated. laboratory analyses were done. the conclusion was done this is biogenic methane ability to oil and gas development. it is based on not just the work of art status, but scientific papers from the geological
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surveys dating back decades. >> so basically if he had been learned is what are 30 years ago you would've had the same problem? >> yes, sir. >> interesting. thank you for addressing. and dr. volz, in your paper you refer to a long list of chemicals that are coming out of the grind treatment facility. were these brave variants, pro-mine, benzene, glycol ether, clorox and so forth, with this developed specifically to try to basically address the challenges these slovak fluids and clean them up? >> senator, this is an older fluid treatment facility that's been in operation for about 25 years and up until about five years ago, only took care of conventional oil and gas fluid. nowadays dealing with these
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marsalis fluids. >> so the technology in the facility is completely inappropriate or ineffective in terms of the fullback fluids now been sent to a? >> that's right, sir. >> if we were looking at a newer facility in pennsylvania designed specifically in mind, we would find all these problems have been addressed? >> i'm not sure of that, sir. i think there needs to be a very definitive review of all the processes that are used by treatment facilities, not only in the state of pennsylvania because wastewater from the state of pennsylvania is actually being treated by these plants and sewage treatment plants in new york, new jersey, maryland, ohio and west virginia as well as pennsylvania. >> so i may have misinterpreted pictures that were presented in your sides, but it looks like pipes coming out of the running
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treatment facility into a creek and just dumping all of this and effectively treated, highly contaminated dangerous stuff right into the creek on a surface in pennsylvania. is that actually was happening? >> that is exactly what is happening, sir. there is very little treatment done at that plant except to remove some of the barium. it is precipitated with a sulfate solution in the barium is lower, still high, but much lower than in the flow backwater, but there is many other contaminants that are not treated by the facility at all. >> ways pennsylvania's department allowing this to be put right into the creek? >> i don't know, sir. >> thank you. >> senator sessions is the regular public good member of the wildlife committee. >> i don't know who is the next -- thank you.
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mr. ubinger, the federal government regulates discharge and the strings in pennsylvania regulates. maybe you'd like to answer the question on mr. volz's commented pennsylvania with discharges against alpine safety of the people in the water. >> senator, the department of environmental protection in 2010 -- >> are you familiar with this incident? >> only from news reports about that facility. but what i was going to save the department of environmental protection formulated a statewide discharge limit for tps for strontium that became effective late last year and early this year. that standard is now in place.
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that standard, i think, would require newly issued permit to include that standard. it's a very stringent 500 million parts standard. one of the issues is that the permit cycle, which is typically five years is running its cars send us far, as far as i am aware, the department does not ask anyone to accelerate revision of those events to fit the standard in place. at the import of the standard is that a number of the responsibility leaders in the industry have begun to recycle their flow backwater by reinject tenet into new marsalis while development. very developing statistics, i'm not sure which one is accurate, but anywhere from 50% to 90% of flow backwater -- >> in ages past ask, does it violate the clean water act and the clean water act would apply to the discharge, would it not? the federal clean water act?
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>> -- >> with it, yes or no? someone should stop it if it is a violation, should it not? yes or no. he has made a complaint. he's trying to get around doing it instead of stuff being hydraulic fracting around the country. we are in a serious financial problem in america. i am worried about our economy. surging gas prices make a difference. natural gas absolutely can be an alternative to the liquid fuel we import, the gasoline. it burns cleaner. it is all-american. it is a lot cheaper. engines that use that will pay for themselves over a period of time. the president, i think, indicated recently that he was interested in expanding natural gas for vehicles. i think it has tremendous potential.
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too often we see in washington is the american people are suffering under high energy prices about a year from washington is a distraction that makes those prices go up instead of down. and people are worried about it. not just i would have to say we need clean, lower-cost energy and i believe that is what natural gas is. i'd like to introduce, mr. chairman, into the record, a statement from dr. boland, director of the state of alabama, water and gas port, a large natural gas component and probably the leading producer of coal bed methane in the country, with dozens of wells over 20 or 30 years. we have never had a problem according to dr. boland has supervised. he went further in to media reports of leaking in the groundwater allocations around the country. he called his colleagues around
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the country in those days and he is concluded that he has found no incidents in which groundwater has been polluted. you know him, mr. cloud, dr. boland? >> i do not. >> he has done this since 1982 when he joined the board. he has a masters degree and doctorate in water hydrology, not petroleum engineering. but i would just offer that for the record. just to paraphrase senator cornyn and follow up on it, i think we've got to watch the regulations in the lawsuit don't become a 5000 cut. mr. cloud, how many fracturing wells have been -- >> 100,000. >> 100,000? i think it's five or 10,000 in alabama. >> i believe the numbers i got a million. >> it is just huge numbers and
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we just got to be careful this time and we desperately need cleaner natural gas, all american natural gas, keeping her wealth at home that we don't create a greater bureaucracy duplicate is the regulations that make it more difficult for us to fight back against high energy costs. >> thank you, mr. chairman. very much. i am honored to be on the subcommittee. you're a strong leader, an experienced member of congress. >> the house and senate are glad you're here. >> thank you very much. i look forward to working with you, senator sessions. senator whitehouse. >> i wanted to ask mr. cloud and mr. neslin when deputy administrator perciasepe is your use diesel fracting under the same drinking water act. are you aware of what used this
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day aliment of the fracting fluid? >> senator, as i mentioned in my testimony we are currently investigating the issue. it is not complete yet. >> would it be -- let me ask you and give mr. cloud a chance to answer. >> i just want to emphasize that we do not allow correct fluids and clean through facilities through difference through were thoroughly through cycle through your so it doesn't reach your water supply. >> is that -- you of no concern that the deployment of the fracting fluid in the world could ever reach your water supply? >> we always have that concern, but we are shared by our
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practices that doesn't happen. >> between the first -- >> s., it is submitted 200 feet of out there producing so, so it can't reach and we have filled the inspectors that witness that process and what it's undergone. >> why isn't it helpful to simply know what is being used as the fracting fluid you don't have to investigate that the company would've reported already since it's been injected into publicly and basically? >> well, some have discussed today, there isn't prior gcc and groundwater protection council initiative that is voluntary right now, where companies then it's just in its infancy but we
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had a great response has been outlined a little bit today for people to divulge her companies divulge the type of fluid are using. >> is there -- i them new to this issue is too much we don't do a lot of this in rhode island. but i have seen stories on the news about families whose water, for instance, is suddenly compromised and did time as association -- it associated with fracting having taken place nearby. are there different geological differences that explain why this might be happening in other places or is there less well-developed technique or do you think this is actually not related to fracting and as a matter of coincidence. >> if i answer that on behalf of colorado, we get dozens of allegations here that water wells have been contaminated.
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we inspect and investigate all of those rigorously. in some cases, we have found that contamination has occurred and that it is attributable to oil and gas development, not hydraulic fracting. typically this bill, a week, might've been a failure of the cement job. in most instances are in many instances we find there's been no contamination, that the conditions being complained of our bacterial contamination, a problem with maintaining the water well. another invention in response to another question, there may be an impact of natural gas, but it's biogenic natural gas,, not attributable to oil and gas development. >> speaking for oklahoma, we been doing this process for a long time and there's not been one single documented incident of contamination to groundwater drinking wonders as a result of
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this process. >> your time is expired. >> thank you for your patient. you're recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate all of you being here. i think you heard about some of the potential problems with the process, but also the solar shades. one of the things that mr. cloud and mr. neslin mentioned was the stronger review process. but i'd like you to do is very briefly, if you could talk about the makeup of their review teams , the observers, of valuations and follow the procedures of stronger -- and also i believe that sometimes the epa is involved in d.o.e. you can talk a little bit about that. >> if i might begin, stronger is a unique group with one third regulators, one third environmental representatives and therefore on a study in
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stronger review, one third of the review team of the observers will be frowned each of those troops. it is a collaborative process. rather than a group of issues of majority and minority positions be participants to work collaboratively to reach a common assessment and a common conclusion and then it is a transparent process in which these reports are issued typically within 60 days after the reveal is computed and posted on the website publicly available. >> mr. neslin did a good job of the makeup of the board. in one third of the people that started the review in oklahoma, the regulatory commissioner and then a critic of the domestic and gas industry in the independent petroleum association of america. the observers to the process for the sierra club and the epa and
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the stronger is funded partially by epa and d.o.e. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> let me thank all of our witnesses. this panel is been extremely helpful. there's still a lot of questions i think we need to deal with. as i was listening to testify, i was curious and i might be submitting questions on this as to what precautions are taken in regards to abandon drilling sites, to make sure that they are not only safely sealed, but the impact that the vacated cavity could have on geological activities? i'm not again a geologist, but i'd be interested as to whether we are at least mindful of these types of issues as the drill more and more wells with the amount of natural gas that we have. so i think there are questions that need to be answered and i do want to complement the states of colorado in the states of oklahoma who have taken
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aggressive action to protect their public health of their citizens. they think we need to learn from the best practices and we've seen some of that sort of catch on in other states. we do have a framework year between the federal government in the state government. our committee will investigate to see whether that is strong enough under existing law or whether new laws are needed. it looks like they are progressively dealing with some of the open issues on public health. you will be following up on the questions they may be asked that it's done. to respond in a timely way. the joint hearing of the subcommittee will be adjourned. thank you all very much. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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